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48                              THE GAY GENIUS

house and garden, about half an acre, near the Ichiu Gate, far away
from the busy streets. There were tall old locust trees and willows
around the house, and the rustic atmosphere suited the family of poets
very well. Thus setded, the father and sons waited for official appoir
ments, which usually were a long time in coming. The brothers passed
yet two other examinations, one for ministry posts in the capital, and
the other, more important, for "frank criticism" of the administration.
Emperor Jentsung, anxious to secure good talent, ordered this special
examination to encourage the spirit of public criticism, and all scholars
could apply upon the recommendation of some minister and upon
the merits of special works submitted. On the recommendation of
Ouyang Shiu, both the brothers applied and passed, Su Tungpo receiv^
ing a grade given to only one other person in the Sung dynasty. He
also submitted a collection of twenty-five historical essays, some of
which have remained favourite prose selections for schools. Later, the
wife of the Emperor told people that Jentsung had said: "Today I have
secured two future premiers for my descendants."

Happily, the father was appointed an examiner of scripts in the
department of archives, without examinations, according to his wish,
and later was given a post in a bureau to compile a history of the lives
of the emperors of the dynasty. It was a writer's job and he accepted
it gladly. But then the question came up how truthful 'these lives of
the emperors should be, the emperors being the ancestors of the reign-
ing ruler. Su Shun took the view that this was strictly 3. historian's
job and a historian should not gloss over the faults even of one's
ancestors. There was a dispute. In a paper preserved in his Collected
Worlds today, Su Shim said: "I hear that some colleagues have peti-
tioned to Your Majesty, saying that the ancestors may have had per-
sonal blemishes, but that if they were no concern of the state, these
should be struck off the records. . . . We are not establishing a code
of ceremonies or moral conduct for the future generations to follow.
It is a historian's duty to record all that they did, regardless of good
and 'bad, to the end that posterity may learn of the truth. If it is the
intention of the court to present and preserve idealised, complimentary
portraits of the ancestors, I cannot regard this as part of my duty. The
author of Han History recorded all that happened. If we now emulate
his example, we shall be able to show that their personal weaknesses
were easily outweighed by the great things that they accomplished,
and we shall have a record that the future generations may regard as
honest and reliable."

The reputation of the three Sus as scholars and writers had now
steadily .risen. They were friends of the most famous writers of the
land, their poems and essays were greatly admired, and the family
was already known as a literary phenomenon. The brothers were just